How to Move Forward after Shutting Down Your Business


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When entrepreneurs start a business, we envision it succeeding beyond our wildest dreams. But what happens when reality does not align with our goals and vision for our business? How do we recover and move forward after closing down our business?

I experienced a similar nightmare when I shut down one of my businesses after battling the recent pandemic. Now, several months after making such a tough decision, I want to share five ways you can move forward from an unfortunate business failure.

1. Give yourself time to grieve

Your business may have been a labor of love or even your baby. It’s hard to face the facts and move on. Be fair to yourself and give yourself time to grieve the loss, even if it is frustrating and heartbreaking to the point of tears. You cannot truly move on to the next chapter while still holding on to what could have been in the old chapter.

Related: Grief, Death and Entrepreneurship — 6 Useful Ways to Manage Loss While Growing A Business

2. Reconnect with loved ones and recover from burnout

Leading up to the decision to close your business, you likely exhausted all possible options. You used all your physical, mental and emotional energy in the process. Now that it’s over, give yourself the freedom to relax, recover and rejuvenate. It may mean taking a trip outside your city for a few days in a new setting.

Consider unwinding to movies you had meant to watch but had no time or picking up that hobby you abandoned while building your business. This is a great time to surround yourself with family and loved ones who love you beyond the business and can support you regarding the next steps.

Related: The 10 Warning Signs of Employee Burnout and How to Handle It

3. Reflect on your past journey and consider possible next steps

Once you have had time to grieve and recover emotionally, now you are in a position to consider what’s next in your life. Take inventory of the lessons you learned from your experience running your business beforehand. It may help to document them, so you can carry them into your next adventure. You can also share such lessons with other aspiring entrepreneurs or colleagues who are running businesses. Ask yourself what you can see yourself doing in the next chapter and start researching what that would look like and what the first few next steps to pursue.

4. Consider getting a “bridge job”

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur, right? Well, running a business is not for the fainthearted. Some former entrepreneurs may desire the security of a paycheck and fewer responsibilities that they had as an owner accountable to everyone. While you consider the next steps, it may be a good idea to take a mental break from your previous responsibilities and get yourself back to work, even if it is working for someone else on a temporary basis. Doing work that provides a regular paycheck for you and your family can help you stay active, take down the mental workload you once had, and give you oxygen — and money — while you consider your next move.

Related: What To Do If Your Company Shuts Down

5. Make a decision: stay an employee or launch out as an entrepreneur again

Now that you have had some time to grieve, recover, reflect, and even work again, only you can make the decision whether you want to build a business again. You may be in a better position to consider collaborating with others to build again or consider building on your own. Give yourself a suitable timeline (ideally between 3-12 months) to decide your next steps and then commit to your next adventure all the way.

Recovering from failure is never easy. Your dreams are broken. You may feel like a failure in the eyes of your family, friends, and fellow entrepreneur community. However, one of the biggest lessons I learned as an entrepreneur is that success does not happen in a straight line. Failure is part of the process. Depending on your mindset, you can view failure as a stepping stone to your subsequent success or as a barrier that dissuades you from ever trying again. Mental toughness and resilience are built not only through the ups and downs of running your own business but also when you have to make a tough decision to close down and move on with your life.

The good news is that you are not alone in experiencing failure. You do not have to be an entrepreneur to know what failure feels like. You live long enough, and you realize that everyone has to respond to the failures and misfortunes they experience. It is not a question of whether or not you will fail. It is more a question of how you will respond when failure knocks on your door, even when you least expect it. I hope these five ways can help you recover from your business failure and build the courage to forge a new adventure on your entrepreneurial path.

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